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Library records, 1823-2012

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Archives RG-03-04

Scope and Contents

This Record Group contains the records of the library at Geneva College, Hobart College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Materials include accession registers, account books, catalogues, library guides and rules, Library Associates records, correspondence, annual reports, gift and donation materials, and other various records related to the library from 1823 to the present.

The largest part of this collection (boxes 5-9) contains building and construction records. These files primarily document the design and construction of the Warren Hunting Smith Library, opened in 1976, and the L. Thomas Melly Academic Center, a 1996 addition to the library. Included in this series are plan proposals, correspondence, meeting notes, design records, and architectural drawings.


  • Creation: 1823-2012


Historical Note

When Geneva College was founded in 1822 a small college library was created. Student literary societies, including the Euglossian, Alpha Phi Delta, Hermean, and Philopeuthian societies, each had its own library, which when combined was sometimes larger than the college library. These libraries were at times housed together in Geneva Hall and in the Middle Building. The library was housed in Middle Building when it burned in November of 1885, destroying a large part of the collection.

Just before the fire destroyed the Middle Building, work had begun on a new library building, which was completed in 1886. This building was constructed to the west of St. John's Chapel, and for the first ten years was referred to as the Library Building. In 1895 an extension was added to the north side of the library, funded primarily through the donations of Mrs. Agnes Demarest of Buffalo. At this time the library was officially named the James F. Demarest Memorial Library. St. Mark's Tower was built in 1961, connecting Demarest Memorial Library with St. John's Chapel. In 1963 a large west wing addition was constructed.

By the 1970s it was clear that the Demarest Memorial Library had been outgrown, and plans were formed to construct a new library building across Pulteney St. from Coxe Hall, on the site of Boswell Field. This building was completed in 1976, and was named in honor of Warren Hunting Smith, HWS trustee, college benefactor, and grandnephew of William Smith. In 1996 the L. Thomas Melly Academic Center addition was constructed. More space was added to the library, and the exterior of the building was refinished to better match the older campus buildings. The Rosensweig Learning Commons renovation in 2008 created a space on the first floor that combines services and staff from the library, the Information Technology department and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

For a history of the college library from 1822-1892 see the Echo of the Seneca (1892), page 56. For another historical account of the library at Hobart College see Librarian Charles Delamater Vail's work "A Brief History of Hobart College Library, 1822-1909." This paper exists only in manuscript form and can be found in the Demarest Memorial Library records in box 4. Prof. Vail served as the college Registrar, Librarian, and as a Professor of English and Rhetoric from 1869-1909. Vail was a graduate of Hobart College in the class of 1859.

The following is a list of the Librarians of Hobart College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges:

1856-1872: Rev. Kendrick Metcalf

1872-1909: Charles Delamater Vail

1909-1916: Herbert Hilarion Yeames

1916-1925: Milton Haight Turk

1925-1939: Margaret Soutter Turk

1939-1943: Irene Graves Harer

1943-1962: Elizabeth Thalman

1963: Edna Parker Farnsworth (acting)

1963-1967: William R. Lansberg

1967-1972: Ralph Stephen Emerick

1972-2007: Paul William Crumlish

2007-2008: Sara Greenleaf (interim)

2008- : Vincent Boisselle


8 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Record Group 03.04. is arranged in the following series:

Annual Report of the Librarian, 1873-1972
Library records, 1823-1885
Demarest Memorial Library records, 1887-1972
Warren Hunting Smith Library records, 1978-2012
Building construction and renovation records, 1957-2008
Archives and Special Collections records, 1977, 2012
Gift and donation records, 1832-1976
Correspondence, 1885-1984
Periodical holdings lists, 1967-2003
Accessions registers, 1822-1996
Library Associates records, 1970-1993
Automated catalog systems records
Library records, 1823-2012: A Finding Aid
Katie Lamontagne, Archivist
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Archives and Special Collections Repository

Warren Hunting Smith Library
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva New York 14456 U.S.A. US (United States)